Using QGIS 2.6.0 Brighton, I want to overlay a shapefile (EPSG: 26910, Nad83 UTM10) over OpenLayers Google Satellite (EPSG: 3857, Pseudo Mercator), and reliably measure distances. Furthermore, I want to teach with little knowledge of coordinate systems how to do so.
The process is to add the shapefile, then add Google Satellite. The project CRS switches to EPSG:3857, and the shapefile is correctly overlaid (well, sometimes imagery shows up in the wrong place, but that's another question). The measure tool does not report correct distance - not surprising, since the CRS is 3857. I do not want to change the CRS because then imagery shifts unexpectedly. So, I change the measure tool ellipsoid in Project Properties to 'GRS 1980'. Hit 'OK' to return to map. The measure tool reports correct distance.
However, if I ever open Project Properties again, the measure tool ellipsoid has defaulted back to 'None/Planametric'. If I hit 'OK' to return to map, the measure tool now reports incorrect distance, presumably because the map plane is unprojected.
Since I seem to be stuck using EPSG:3857 to accommodate OpenLayers, how can I change the default measurement ellipsoid?